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January 21, 2004 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-21

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 21, 2004 -13

Bruck adjusts to training center atmosphere

TONY DING/Daily
Junior Brendan Neligan won't be getting back in the pool for a while after suffering
a freak knee injury leaving his house. He will have an MRI done Thursday.
Key injury could end
ng s
Ne 1g S 1l* season

By Melanie Kebler
Daily Sports Writer
Walk into the Donald R. Shepherd Training
Center - home of the Michigan women's gym-
nastics team - and you'll probably be momen-
tarily overwhelmed. Big Ten championship
banners loom large in the center of the ceiling,
numbering 11 in all, five over the past five years.
The 17,000-square-foot, $3.5 million state-of-
the-art training center is a daunting place,
designed to house the elite of college gymnastics.
In the middle of it all, freshman Lindsey Bruck
prepares to mount the balance beam. Her feet rest
on a small, white bath mat, and her teammates
shout encouragement. She starts every mount this
way, and laughs when asked about her good luck
charm, the mat, which she has had since she was
11 years old.
"I used to use it on the balance beam when I
was learning new skills," Bruck said. "Then I
would stand on it for my mounts because my feet
were sweaty and would slip on the mats, and it
just kind of stuck."
Bruck admits the bath mat is a "little supersti-
tion, but it's my only one." Bruck says she has
learned to deal with her teammates teasing her.
Shepherd Training Center can be intimidating
for an incoming freshman gymnast. In her first
few months at school, Bruck has adjusted to that
and has become a solid contributor for the
Wolverines.
"It was definitely a big change, but everything
has been great so far," Bruck said. "We're such a
close team and we always do things together. It

helps you adjust to being a freshman at the col-
lege level."
The adjustment Bruck has made has paid off in
Michigan's first two competitions. At Nebraska
two weeks ago, she compiled Michigan's third-
best all-around score, behind senior veterans
Elise Ray and Calli Ryals. The finish earned her
fifth in the event overall. Bruck also scored a
9.925 on the balance beam, a feat that coach Bev
Plocki says "in and of itself makes a statement,
loud and clear.
"Beam tends to be the most nerve-wracking
event, and if you're going to show nerves, a lot of
times that's where it comes out," Plocki said. "So
to go up there and hit a routine like she did her
first time out makes a pretty bold statement."
Last Sunday against Minnesota, Bruck again
placed third for Michigan and fifth overall in the
all-around, and finished third for the Wolverines
on the floor routine with a 9.850.
"I think that she is a pretty composed young
lady," Plocki said. "She has demonstrated that
she likes to compete and she's a competitor."
The Wolverines will need Bruck's best efforts
to get through the early part of the season, which
has seen injuries to two of the team's best bars
performers, Jenny Deiley and Lauren Mirkovich.
"(Lindsey's) bars are very, very clean," Plocki
said. "She hasn't really hit the perfect routine yet
in competition, but when she does, it's going to
score big."
After such a strong start in her first year of
collegiate competition, the Wolverines could
come to rely on Bruck for those big scores down
the road. But Bruck doesn't seem intimidated.

By Gabe Edelson
Daily Sports Writer
The mood was somber at yesterday
afternoon's practice for the men's swim-
ming and diving team. Junior Brendan
Neligan, a key point-earner in middle-
and long-distance events, fell on Sunday
morning and suffered a right-knee
injury that may pre-
vent him from swim-
ming this season.
"I was going to
breakfast with a
friend," said a disap-
pointed Neligan said.
"I was running out the back door of my
house and I just fell on the ice. The
knee just went the wrong way."
The preliminary diagnosis was a par-
tial tear or strain of the medial collater-
al ligament, which is located on the
inside of the knee. An MRI tomorrow
will show the severity of the injury and
dictate Neligan's role for the remainder
of the season.
"The best-case scenario is that I can
get two weeks of training in before Big
Ten (Championships) and maybe help
the team a little bit;' Neligan said. "But
I have to look out for the best interests
of myself and the rest of my career.
Hopefully surgery won't be needed."
Neligan's absence will have a dra-
matic impact on the team's perform-
ance, especially in the 500-yard
freestyle, 400-yard individual medley
and 1,650-yard freestyle - the races in
which the Long Island, N.Y., native
excelled.
"He was having such a good year, it's
too bad," coach Jon Urbanchek said.
"We'll have about 50 points less (at the
Big Ten championships) because he
was good for at least three (event)
finals. I don't know if anybody can
make up for that. Others are just going
to have to pick up the pieces and go
forward."
The injury is even more painful since
the NCAA championships will be held
in Neligan's backyard.
"It's upsetting," Neligan said.
"NCAAs are in Long Island, five min-
utes from my house, and I'll definitely
be there. Will I be swimming? I don't
know."
Senior captain Dan Ketchum admits
the team already feels the void left by
the unfortunate mishap. But Neligan is
determined to encourage his team-
mates.
"It was a big loss to see him walk in
(to practice) yesterday with crutches,"
Ketchum said. "But he's been on the
pool deck. He says he's going to be here
every day because he wants.to keep the
morale going. He's usually that leader in
the pool, but it's good that he's still able
to bring it, even with the injury."
Urbanchek knows the team must
move on despite losing one of its own.
"Things like this happen," he said.
"It's just part of life. I'm sure it's very
hard for him to deal with that because
he wanted to do real well for the team,
but we'll overcome it. Time will heal
everything, including the knee."
Neligan has not had much trouble
adjusting to life on the injured reserve.
"You just need to wake up five min-
utes earlier (to be on time)," said Neli-
gan of getting around campus on
crutches. "Everyone's been pretty help-
ful, whether it be holding doors or just
walking with me. It's been fine. I just
want to see the best for (my teammates)
right now. That's all I can really ask."
Heading into the final dual meets of
the season, at Northwestern and against
Michigan State, Michigan needs contri-
butions from swimmers who do not
usually have to step up.
"We'll be alright," a solemnly opti-
mistic Neligan said. "We'll get through
this."
END OF AN ERA: Urbanchek

announced to his swimmers and
LEWIS
Continued from Page 11
like we belong.
Without sports, who would teach us
about underdogs and hustle points and

their parents that this will be his
final season coaching Michigan.
The announcement came after the
Stanford meet on Jan. 10.
Urbanchek, who has become syn-
onymous with Michigan swimming
and diving, has skippered the
Wolverines for 22 years - includ-
ing 1995, when Michigan won the
NCAA Championship.

Senior Elise Ray won't be around much longer, but
freshmen like Lindsey Bruck will carry the load.
"I love to just go out in front of a crowd and go
have fun and show them what I've learned and
put so much work into," Bruck said. "I want to go
out and hit every meet and do the best that I can
to help the team."

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